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Standoff in Spring Hill ends when man kills himself

SPRING HILL — For 12 hours, negotiators tried to get James Michael Soard to come out peacefully.

By the time deputies responded to a report of shots fired about 2 a.m. Monday, the 39-year-old Soard already had shot at his sister in the house at 8169 Berkeley Manor Blvd., authorities said.

His sister fled, and Soard fired at deputies, said Hernando Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Denise Moloney.

About 3 p.m., with a SWAT team surrounding the house and his mother still inside, Soard fatally shot himself, Moloney said. By then, he was wanted on four counts of attempted murder for shooting at his sister and deputies.

Soard's mother, who chose to stay during the standoff, walked out unharmed.

Authorities did not release more information Monday, so it was unclear what kind of gun Soard had and what caused him to open fire.

The daylong standoff prompted officials to evacuate nearby homes and block access to the Berkeley Manor subdivision. A crowd gathered at a 7-Eleven on U.S. 19 and watched the incident unfold.

A little after noon, members of the Pasco sheriff's SWAT team arrived to relieve their Hernando counterparts. About 2:30 p.m., officers broke a window on the side of the one-story home. There was a bang, then a second; a few minutes later, a third. An armored truck pulled up to the house, and a voice on a loudspeaker ordered the occupants to come out with hands up.

When no one came, officers dropped a flash grenade through the broken window. Soard's mother came out about 15 minutes later.

Soard was arrested in February in Orlando and charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, records show. The charges were dropped March 11.

The owners of the house are Yuko Soard and the estate of Charles E. Soard, property records show. The house was last sold in March 2011.

An officer showed up at home of Richard Sommerfeld and Donna Christenson about 6:30 a.m. Monday and told them to stay inside and away from windows. The couple live catty-corner to the Soards.

When the standoff ended, Christenson took photos of two bullet holes in a neighbor's house. One round landed in the stucco above the garage door, Christenson said. Another was embedded in the front door.

"I assumed this was a domestic dispute and that anybody outside the house was not at risk," Christenson said. "To find out he was firing shots that hit the house across the street is pretty unnerving."

Standoff in Spring Hill ends when man kills himself 03/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 10:49pm]
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